SSSS.DYNAZENON Episode 11

“What Wish Can’t Come True?”

With the Eugenicists having run out of Kaiju, they go their separate ways. Meanwhile, the Dynazenon crew have to find a way to go back to their normal lives, and Gauma has to work out what his role is in a world which no longer needs him.

Zigg’s Thoughts

Given how last week’s episode marked the climax of multiple character plots, you’d be forgiven for believing that Dynazenon would take an episode off this time round, or at the very least move towards a more plot-heavy style as we build up to the finale. You’d think wrong though, as instead this is another episode of dense, character-focused storytelling that only really spins up into high-gear mode right at the the end. I think it’s debatable as to whether they should have waited quite that long, but as ever the character work we get is so compelling it’s impossible to be too reserved about more of it.

One interesting structural trick this episode plays is that, by pretending their battle is over, we get to see the beginnings of the characters in a post-Dynazenon world, and so can see them reckoning with some of the development they’ve undergone. Normally you’d only have a snippet of this as a final episode postscript, or in the best case a bonus episode or OVA, so it’s a clever little narrative wrinkle to work some of it in here. Given how much time we’ve spent with them too, it’s gratifying to see the progress that everyone has made in overcoming their own demons. Koyomi’s motivated to clean himself up and get a job, Yume’s apologising to all the boys she stood up, and she and Yomogi are finally able to further their relationship over something other than beating monsters up with giant robots.

I want to single out the Yume & Yomogi scenes in particular, because they’re such an effective summary of how well the show has built the relationship between them. Their partnership has become natural and effortless, so much so that they spend most of this episode basically shackled to each other, and yet it never feels forced or out of place. Their dialogue has the easygoing openness of two people entirely comfortable in each other’s company, be that chatting with Gauma, or discussing the nuances of cleaning a memorial. The graveyard scene in particular is packed with wonderful touches which exude charm and warmth. For a start, after his obvious ambivalence throughout the show about spending time with his mother’s boyfriend, it’s very cute that the thing that finally drives Yomogi to opt out is his desire to accompany Yume on an important day. His conversation with her is the first time he’s openly talked about his misgivings over his potential stepfather, and it’s another mark of how much he trusts her. I also really like his reply to her musings wondering if their relationship is over now the kaiju are gone – a simple, yet heartfelt statement that he still wants to see her despite their reason for fighting together being gone. It’s such a lovely moment that I really wish they hadn’t proceeded straight to the classic love confession, but sometimes cliche is just too powerful to resist I suppose.

One thing I harp on a lot in my writing is that you have to be willing to show characters making mistakes, because then they can learn from them and become more fully rounded personalities. In the same vein, sometimes you have to show them having setbacks so the eventual triumph will be more sweet. With Yume, Yomogi and Koyomi, we’re seeing the rebound after the mistake, but as ever with Dynazenon it’s not going to be so simple. Chise here represents what happens when the redemptive arc doesn’t go quite so smoothly. All along, it’s been fairly clear that Chise idolises Koyomi to a certain extent, clinging onto him and imitating his mannerisms. What’s also become obvious though is that she additionally sees him as an exemplar in some unhealthy ways, and that she’s using his perpetual NEET status as a justification for her own shut-in nature. Yume, Yomogi, and most pertinently Koyomi have all faced the demons they were fighting and come out more accepting, but Chise, though she’s become an accepted part of the team, still hasn’t confronted the trauma which caused her truancy in the first place. She attempts to return to normal life not because it’s the culmination of a character journey she’s been on, but because that’s what Koyomi is doing and she has no idea what do other than imitate him. Combine that with the news that Goldburn is going away and it’s fair to say Chise is not a happy bunny by the end of this episode. I do wonder if we’ll find out a little more about the trauma that drives her – I could see it going either way at this point, and they don’t have much time – but I do feel she’ll be important to whatever finale there is to play out.

Finally, there’s the story heavy stuff, which mostly revolves around the twin axes of Gauma and Sizumu. Even if it’s not clear to the characters in the show, it’s obvious to us the viewers that Gauma’s body is slowly failing, and his overall mood reflects that, alternately leaning into his hot blooded personality and dialling it back a little for moments of unusual sensitivity. There are a few more tidbits about his relationship with the Princess, including the fact that she committed suicide after he died, and that he had hoped she’d been revived alongside him in the current time.  It’s clear however that there are still things he knows or suspects that we’re not aware of – he shows up at the perfect time to protect Yomogi from Sizumu and says he’s aware the Eugenicist has been watching them for a while.

Sizumu himself meanwhile presents a whole new set of conundrums. Honestly, having a Kaiju inside him is the least surprising part, since we all knew there had to be another monster to fight. It’s the things he says about the nature of his relationship to it, and to the other characters, which is so fascinating. We already know that kaiju gain strength from human emotion, and what Sizumu says seems to indicate that he’s been watching Yume and Yomogi and gathering emotions from them to power himself up. His words on the reason the Eugenicists returned though are the most critical and fascinating parts of his speech. The implication is that the power of Kaiju is what allowed them to return from the grave…but in that case how did Gauma return, seeing as he had already lost his bond with Kaiju by the first episode? What’s more, his words at the beginning of the episode seem to imply that the other Eugenicists have become human by losing their bond to Kaiju, but if so then who is the ‘we’ he’s referring to when speaking to Gauma? Lest we forget, Yomogi has also shown an ability to connect with Kaiju…

The truth is, there’s an abundance of questions left on the table as we move into the final episode, and I’m not naive or unrealistic enough to hope that they’ll all be answered. Rather, my hope for the ending is that we’ll get just enough of those answers to satisfy, and also a powerful emotional climax to round off the exceptional character work that we’ve seen throughout the show. That might be tricky though, as Dynazenon‘s more low-key storytelling style may make it difficult to match up to the finale of SSSS.Gridman, which was arguably the best episode of the show and one for the ages. Still, the team has made lightning strike twice so thoroughly in every other way it’d be foolish to assume they won’t repeat the feat here.

Random Observations

  • The official release of this episode contains a major translation error – when Yomogi and Yume are looking at the phone, they’re talking about a 5,000 year old mummy, not a mirror, as context should make clear. The mistake likely arises from the fact that the Japanese word for mummy, ミイラ, is pronounced ‘mii-ra’, leading the translator to think that it was a case of an English loan word being used.
  • This episode finally confirms what has been fairly obvious since the early episodes, namely that Gauma is the mummy who appeared in episode 18 of Gridman the Hyper Agent. The image of the mummy used on the phone webpage is just a filtered screenshot from the live-action show, while the voice which Gauma heard is archive audio from that episode of Gridman’s ally Yuka Inoue. This basically positions Dynazenon as a direct sequel to the live-action show, and confirms key parts of Gauma’s backstory – he was a warrior who had the power to control Dragons (like Dynazenon…) who fell in love with a Princess, fought for her country, but was betrayed by members of her family who feared his power.
  • Hyper Agent also confirms Gauma originally died from poisoning, which certainly seems to fit with the nasty blotches appearing all over his body. Incidentally, those blotches have been gradually growing as the show has gone on.
  • Under the ‘hobbies’ section of his CV, Koyomi has written ‘Self-taught DynaStriker pilot’.

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